Q: Dear Dr. Culp, You often say that many employers fire employees during the holiday season. You say that smaller budgets, reallocated resources or a mood to re-set their workplaces as the new year looms may be behind it.
I’ve been hearing rumors that some of us are going to be let go. I’d like to find out about them. What’s the best way to go about this without jeopardizing my job? Suspicious
A: Dear Suspicious, Track the source(s) of the rumors. Look for direct connections with people who hire and fire, including those who plan the workforce. Listen for statements about the health of the company, specific projects and objectives met or missed. Get as close to people with budgets as possible. Changes in their jobs could signify upheaval, which can be negative.
Learn to read between the lines when you speak with salespeople. Get a read on the market. If you hear that “everything’s just fine,” ask how it’s different from a year or two years ago, or even before the recession.
More unsettling information? Job hunt internally, because new jobs may open up. To be safe, look elsewhere, too. mlc
Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’ve been offered a position at a family business in an industry I like and with all of my values. They seem to care about their employees but also want to make money. However, if they must choose one or the other, they choose the employee.
This appears to be a golden opportunity for me. Because I can’t find any points of possible danger, I’m wondering what more I could do to check it out. Please advise. Lacking
A: Dear Lacking, You won’t be if you ask them questions about non-family members, such as how many work there, the adjustments they have to make and how long they stay, on average. You’d also be wise to request a chance to meet with some of them, because their story about the business may be very different from what the family projects.
Family businesses can be excellent places to work, because the family is determined to succeed for the sake of the business, the family’s security. You’re correct in stating that outsiders risk being let go when something goes wrong. Loyalty to family members is extremely high. Given a choice, the family usually sides with family. You must choose, all things considered.